Each year millions of people make plans, set resolutions and vow to do things differently in the year that lies ahead. Usually the areas they are thinking about are related to eating, exercise, smoking, balance, etc. In this process of evaluation, I’m wondering how many parents look at their parent-child relationship and make plans in that area for the year ahead?
If you have not yet done that, you may want to consider it. Here are some ideas on creating a healthy relationship with your children this year:
- Listen. We have all heard the saying, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Our children are no different. We assume they know we love them because we provide for them, care about their grades and future, and we interact with them daily. Even when we are providing what we think they “want” (things), it often does not make them feel loved. As I work with kids of all ages, what I hear them say is that they want their parents to listen. They want their parents to at least try to understand their point of view. They want their parents to consider their ideas as possible and valid. If you want your child’s attention, talk less and listen more.
- Believe. How often do our kids tell us they don’t feel well and we still make them go to school, do homework and basically just keep plugging along? We don’t believe they are “sick enough” or maybe we think they are fudging it. We are not teaching our children to listen to their own bodies. It warrants a conversation so they learn how to use the information their body gives them within the parameters of the commitments they make and the obligations they have. Believe what they tell you and then walk them through what to do with that information. What are the choices? What are the pro’s and con’s? That is when they learn something valuable.
- Stand Up. When something happens with your child at school or with a friend or even a sibling, what do you do? Do you immediately side with the other person? The teacher for instance? Or do you listen to and believe what your child is telling you? Do you consider both sides before you respond? When your child is overwhelmed with school, do you push them or “should” them or threaten them, or do you truly consider whether or not what is being asked is reasonable? Some things that are being asked of our students today are not reasonable. YOU are the only one who can stand up for your child in the way that they need. This is not about coddling or not being accountable. It’s about evaluating expectations, listening to your child and standing up for them. You are their #1 advocate in life.
There are also some great questions you can ask your child. Try these:
- – If there was one thing I could change that would make me a better mom/dad, what would it be?
- – On a scale of 1-10, how much do you think I love you? Why?
- – If you were afraid and needed to call someone, who would you call?
There are many more questions you could ask. The bottom line is this: the relationship and bond that you create, the trust and respect, caring and love, the connection you build … is crucial. We focus on what our children are doing, assuming that tells us about their character. That’s backwards. We need to focus on their character (which requires love, understanding and an investment of time), which leads them to better choices.
Life is not about school, homework, chores and tomorrow;
it’s about love, kindness, people and today.
Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent. She provides parenting classes, teen programs and individual coaching and is known for her practical parenting style. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation today! www.alovingway.com